For your 300th episode bonus appreciation, here’s Graeme’s pick for the Youtube clip that best represents Graeme:
Although Chloe’s pick to represent Graeme is also very, very good:
And because Jeff is cursed, he can only find this very perfect clip that best represents Jeff by having you click the player inside this tweet:
Donald Trump reminds me of this Fred Armisen character who can’t finish a single sentence pic.twitter.com/hlV3cL2RmW
— Sarah Cooper (@sarahcpr) August 3, 2016
And as a bonus pick for Jeff, here’s a picture of Randy Quaid:
And with all that said, here’s the episode!
0:01-28:07: Greetings from Episode 300! We get right into it with exactly what people expect from a big landmark number like that—nostalgia, self-aggrandizement, and a sheepish acknowledgment that our numbering system is hilariously askew. Also discussed: Battlestar Galactica! Smashing Pumpkins! The Batman Quadrology and related relationship (and music) confessions!
28:07-41:19: Three Questions from Galactic Protector Dominic L. Franco! Question 1: Since you both at one time worked in retail comics, I wanted to ask your opinion about why comics don’t fully transition to the graphic novel format. Floppies made a lot of sense when they were relatively cheap and when the only market was the direct market or the newsstand. But now, there are bookstores and Amazon, Comixology, and even those direct market stores that all do their business off of trades and graphic novels. When publishers are asking $9.99 for a “giant, special” issue, is cost really the boogeyman some would make it out to be. Floppies also made a lot of sense when every floppy was a self-contained story. But now, so many issues are just “writing for the trade”, why not cut out the middle portion and just put out the trade? Is it because trades/graphic novels cost so much up front for something you don’t know anything about? How is that any different from the hundreds of hardcover novels that get put out and picked up every year? Are publishers worried about the upfront cost? Again, why is that so different from the book market and the publishers that work there. Every book publisher knows what authors will be bankable (in the short term) and what authors will be a risk or a possible loss; Marvel knows what kind of numbers a Mark Waid book is going to post; DC knows that Geoff Johns is going to cover the cost of putting his work out. I just wanted to know your thoughts about transitioning fully to the trade format — arguments for and against. I apologize if this feels like a subject that was covered before.
41:19-57:48: Question 2! Why does Superman not seem to work anymore in pop culture at large? Batman is thought of as “so cool”, has multiple cartoons and multiple movies that have worked and reworked his concept. Superman is thought of as “everyone’s dad” but that’s just shorthand for saying he is old-fashioned and corny. He’s put into films that play up the fact that he is an alien (not one of us), or that make him more violent and less heroic (in the try to save as many people as possible sense — “we can’t fight here — the people!”). Even in the comics, different attempts are made to chip away at him — to give him angst or pathos. Why can he not seem to work as the inspirational figure he is meant to be? Why is his ethic of wanting to do good simply for the sake of doing good (because it is the right thing) sneered at? Did we let Superman down or was he always just something for children? I ask this as a Superman enthusiast and am just curious as to what kind of discussion this may stir.
57:48-1:02:55: Question 3! You know I’ve tried to solicit from the both of you Wait, What? the Soundtrack. Now I want to ask about Wait, What? the Movie: Jeff, in your opinion, who plays you and who plays Graeme? Graeme, same question.
1:02:55-1:24:57: This was a long time coming! Kevin Donlan asked: So…on the last Q&A (Ep 273) I had asked a question that got pushed because it was a bit deeper than time allowed, I’m still curious about your thoughts, especially with how the world has gone slightly more than sideways since then. If you were to recommend an introduction to comics to different age levels what would you recommend. I had put a bunch of age brackets in the question last time, but how about 10 and under, 11-15, 16-20, 21-30 and 31+. I know it’s kind of a hard question since you don’t know anything about the target audience other than age, but I think you are up to the challenge. Thanks for the podcast, I appreciate what you guys share with us.
1:24:57-1:38:08: Michael Loughlin performs a flawless victory combo! On the last episode, you discussed the recent Lois Lane mini series, and that Superman explaining why he wouldn’t help immigrants imprisoned by the government was weak and didn’t fit his character. I’ve long maintained that bringing in too many real-world elements breaks Big 2 super-heroes.
Do you agree?
Should we see super-heroes solve real world problems in the pages of their comics, or does that cheapen real world problems?
Is it better to see super-heroes deal with an analogue to the real world problem? (e.g. “President Universo is detaining undocumented Durlans on Takron-Galtos and using the Science Police to attack protesters! It’s up to the Legion of Superheroes to free the unjustly-imprisoned Durlans, but can Element Lad convince Officer Erin to stand up to his fellow officers?”) (why yes, I have been reading a ton of Legion lately, how did you know?)
Not counting out-of-continuity/alternate reality series like Watchmen or Squadron Supreme, can you think of a Big 2 super-hero comic that addressed real world concerns that was exceptionally good?
1:38:08-1:51:13: David Austin inquires: Question for podcast 300: I rarely hear you guys talk about eurocomics/Bandes dessinee compared to American, British, or Japanese comics, even though they’ve become a lot more accessible thanks to ComiXology, Titan, and other distribution mechanisms. Curious if you have some favorites or recent picks (I enjoyed the Elric adaptation from a few years ago). Also curious whether you think European genre comics – fantasy, sci-fi, crime, etc. – are smarter or more sophisticated on average than American genre comics, or do they just tend to present as such because of more sophisticated visuals and more “adult” themes?
1:51:13-2:04:30: Steven Bagatourian descended into the underworld to save his beloved and returned with this: Speaking of desperate and dying, let’s talk about the state of mainstream comics! More specifically: the price of mainstream comics.
When I started reading comic books, they cost 65 cents at my local Circle K. Today, we live in the land of the $3.99 and $4.99 comic book — price points that are wildly out of whack with the cost of inflation and the cost of minimum wage in this country. No matter what index you choose, comic book prices are just insane and seem to doom this medium to cultural obscurity, particularly now, with the present economic horror show we’re living through. I realize the readership is shrinking dramatically, but to me, clearly, these absurdly escalating price points are a huge reason why this has happened — not the only reason, to be sure, but a pretty fucking big one.
Is the paper floppy really a dead format (NOOOOOOOOOOO!)? Would $2 floppies sell substantially higher than their $4 counterparts, enough to justify the price-drop? (I say “Yes” to that last one — at least, I would take a chance on a whole lot more books at two bucks.) Are we destined for comic book magazines in America that combine multiple issues in phonebook-style manga magazines?
2:04:30-2:07:16: HEEEEEEEEEERE’S Ethan Johnson! What is DC doing? It seems like a bunch of titles are “wrapping up” in a month or so. Is this the “5G Reboot” thing, or is that off the schedule because of COVID and DiDio’s departure?
2:07:16-2:26:46: Telegram from Tim Rifenburg! Hey Guys, I already sent a question through Patreon but if you are feeling kind, here is a quick one. Favorite Anniversary Comic? (100th, 500th, 25th etc.) Mine is JLA 200.A fun throwback to early JLA with Gerry Conway, George Perez and a bunch of short chapters with classic team up / slugfest by a jam of artists.
2:16:54-2:26:46: Podcast Protector and Comic Book Champion Adam Knave (whose name I think I talked over when Graeme said it? Sorry, Adam!!): 3 part question though, in honor or the 3-0-0 –
What is the GREATEST Avengers run?
What is the GREATEST JLA run?
Between the two – which is better than the other?
2:18:38-2:26:46: We are always grateful to hear from Dan Billings—sorry we truncated your comments down to just the question, Dan!—who ponders: What would you recommend to feel good about comics?
While talking to my wife about Christopher Nolan’s movies, she said that she much preferred “the Buster Keaton Batmans” and reader I am still recovering.
— Jeff (@Lazybastid) August 3, 2020
2:26:46-2:29:04: That imp CJ Kral inquires: Would you rather see a 1920’s silent Batman film staring Buster Keaton or Spider-man staring Charlie Chaplin? Super-exciting question for Jeff on so many levels! It’s a reference to one of his tweets! He gets to explain the joke to Graeme! And his answer makes Graeme reconsider his. WE HAVE A HAT TRICK, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN
2:29:04-2:35:51: It’s the Flasshe of Two Worlds! Roger Winston powers up the cosmic treadmill to ask:
Question 1: If DC’s 5G initiative had actually gone forward and was as rumored (legacies replacing originals), is that something you would’ve been in favor of? And for how long? I think I would’ve been okay with it, but for like 2 years max.
2:35:51-2:41:46: Question 2: Is the pandemic NOT really going to be the nail in the coffin of the comics industry, or at least the direct market? I was sure it was, but now I’m wavering.
2:41:46-2:46:52: Question 3 (I guess he’s the Flasshe of Three Worlds?): Has quarantining / self-isolating changed your eating habits for the better or worse or not at all? I am eating less, but also probably less nutritiously, and losing weight but not the “bad” weight since there is also less exercise.
2:46:52-2:50:00: And jumping the queue is Chad Nevett for our final question of the episode: which of you is which from below? Robert Secundus quote: “Oh you two have a podcast? Which is the scholar and which is the clown?”
2:50:00-end: Closing comments! Look for us on Stitcher! Itunes! Instagram! Twitter together and separately: Graeme and Jeff! Tumblr, and on Patreon where a wonderful group of people make this all possible, including Dominic L. Franco, and Empress Audrey, Queen of the Galaxy, to whom we are especially grateful for her continuing support of this podcast. (Also, don’t forget about Spotify!)
Next week: It was supposed to be a Drokk! but it instead is going to be the wrap-up of answering your questions! Woo, another longstanding Wait, What tradition survives!
Here you go:
Have you cut and pasted all three hundred episodes, True Believer? If so, send your completed Wait, What? audio stampbook into us with a self-addressed stamped envelope and we’ll see you a bonafide No Prize!
Regarding the BD question, have you heard of Izneo? (https://www.izneo.com/) It’s like Comixology for French-language comics, translated into English. It’s got a pretty deep catalog.
Just want to say, this Q&A sparked some inspiration for me. My prose reading habits have picked up after a number of years in decline, and while my comics ones have go up as well after a severe burnout, I’m still not quite finding a ‘happy place’ with my comics reading. So the thoughts on ‘good’ comics have given some ideas of how I want to approach renewing that love of comics.
There are a number of issues surrounding trades vs single issues that I think could be expanded upon:
1. Single issues sell better vs trades when single issues are available, but I don’t think we have any idea what would happen if single issues went away. There’d probably be a new Batman graphic novel out every month, but what does that mean? Would DC designate one title as the “main” one or not bother? Would fans be happy buying one Batman OGN a month or would they just buy Spider-Man in single issues instead? I don’t think we have any real idea of what the market for OGNs is in a world that doesn’t have single issues.
2. Digital serialization. DC already does “digital first” with a bunch of their comics, and while they did tend to publish them in single issues and collections they could just skip the print issues and continue to serialize things.
3. Shared universe: What does a shared universe look like if you’re only publishing trades? How do crossovers/events change? How do you launch new characters/concepts?
4. What does the non Marvel/DC world of comics look like if single issues stopped being published? By this I don’t mean Scholastic or whoever, but Image Comics or Dark Horse or self publishing. Would we see more crowdfunding campaigns?
Enjoyed the episode. The Q & A’s are always fun and informative and highlight the best of Wait What because you go off on digressions, tangents as well as giving your honest thoughts.
I reserve a few titles at a store and get to it roughly twice a month. It is mostly through routine and because I like seeing the books. I rarely add a title to the stack unless it is a one shot or a done in one. (Things like Annuals, Marvel- Snapshots etc.) I thought about going mail order but I think I would eventually just stop without the draw of the store. The biggest obstacles to me buying more books are costs, shared universe titles and the inconsistency of titles in regards to a complete story or a story that holds my interest. When you guys describe Dark Metal titles, Snyder’s JLA, Batman etc. It makes me happy I will never have to read them. Nothing you mention sounds like anything I would like to happen with the characters or a story I am interested in.
Another issue is that I think my age, depth of knowledge and familiarity with comics stories and characters works against me. I have been reading comics for almost 50 years and it is harder to find things that are fresh, new takes on old concepts and surprise. I do buy more trades than individual books but the trades are mostly through sales, remaindered book sites and Amazon. I like to support my local store but a trade with a remaindered mark for six buck or less will always trump a full price book. So cost and bang for the buck win out most times. Digital has seeped in slightly but I prefer a physical book. I figure the older you are your habits and preference dictate some of your enjoyment.
I had point here somewhere. Thanks for 300 plus episodes and hours of enjoyment. You guys have made my yard work a lot more enjoyable once I got the hang of downloading the podcast to my MP3 player. I even added a few Drokk episodes on skip weeks, even though Dredd doesn’t interest me, just to hear you guys. Your enthusiasm and interest in the topic still makes it worth a listen.
An interesting question for me is *why* what is a rather odd model compared to other things is, as our hosts lay out, empirically successful.
Counterfactually, what was missing that stopped serialization of novels, when that was the dominant model, developing a nonreturnable direct market and so continuing to dominate in its own segment? (Yes, serialization still happens, but it’s been a long time since it was the norm for every novel to be serialized first.) Was it that novels were generally serialized as part of periodicals, and not as free-standing serialized items in their own right? Did comics possess superior qualities as collectibles, because of the dominance of very long-running superhero titles?
I think a comparison with the science-fiction prose market might be interesting. Magazines like Astounding (topical!) were the dominant entry points into the genre in the middle of the 20th century, and serialization of novels was standard. Similar fannish culture to that of comics (including in the bad ways…).
And OK, those magazines still exist, but they’re not at the center of the genre, and haven’t been since, I don’t know, the ‘60s? What happened? Why isn’t there a direct market of non-returnable science-fiction anthology magazines? Actually, why isn’t that the *same* market as the comics direct market — which overlaps a lot with gaming stores, after all?
Left something out there. The key point is that the logic of “you get to double-dip” should apply just as well to many other things that aren’t comics. You could double-dip for novels as well, and that used to be exactly what happened. And then it (mostly) stopped.
There are, of course, things outside comics where the same double-dipping logic does equally apply: TV, films. It is perhaps best to think of the trade paperback as a DVD boxed set, but one that might (might!) be less vulnerable to being replaced by streaming.
Could you do the questions about trades/single issues and the marketplace again next week? Since so much has changed in the time after this episode was released?
Thanks for taking my questions, guys! I appreciate the thoughtful replies, and will be sure to check out the Greg Pak/ Aaron Kuder Superman stories at some point. I can’t believe I forgot about Gerber’s use of current issues as I’m a mark for Gerber. Good call, Jeff.
1) I have read very few European comics, but I just got a bunch of Humanoids titles through Humble Bundle. The bundle included several volumes of The Incal, Metabarons, and a few other comics I’ve heard of but never read. I’m looking forward to diving in. If people are looking for an “in” to European comics, I recommend Blacksad. The art is some of the most beautiful work I’ve ever seen, and the noir storytelling is good enough to keep the pages turning.
2) Singles vs. trades: I started buying floppies again about a year ago. I like comics in all forms, but my brain prefers a stack of single issues to trades or digital. The price point is ridiculous, but I still can’t imagine paying $4 or $5 for a digital copy. I also think Comixology has been mismanaged (hardly an original thought), and digital-only readership could expand with a different price point (which the comics companies probably won’t allow) and better advertising. I don’t think the sales help much, as I think most theoretical new readers would be less interested in old stuff and daunted by the sheer amount of comics available. When I hear that digital sales aren’t rising, it comes as no surprise.
3) To add to your age-based reading suggestions: For the 11-15 yr old crowd, I recommend Usagi Yojimbo, American Born Chinese, Supergirl: Being Super, and Laika. For 18-25, I recommend Blankets, Casanova, and Wicked & Divine. For over 25, I recommend Daytripper, the first couple Darwyn Cooke Parker adaptations, and Chris Ware and Kim Deitch’s comics.
Thanks for answering my question. It was great advice. And it is true that a huge pull of my continued love of comics is the people I share this hobby with and the kindness and friendship they exude. Lots of great recommendations so I have lots of great comics to get to now.
Happy 300th-ish episode, guys! I like the Q+A episodes too, so will open the campaign for you to change to the ‘legacy numbering’ so episode 400 comes around a little sooner. Only a couple of scraps of comment this time, both Jeff directed: My younger sister wrote to ‘Conan’ in the 70s and was published somewhere around the 70th issue. She was complaining about the obviousness of Thomas’s plan to kill Belit in #100. I think it was ‘Blind Justice’ that had the assassin Henri du/e something buying pencils in the airport when he landed as in his hands they were deadly weapons. Apparently he was unaware you can carry pencils on a plane. I was somewhat peeved by this nonsense, although I suppose it was memorable.